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Putting the Launch Together

As our class is coming to an end, we have all been split into groups to get ready for the book launch. I am on the event and promotions team. This was very exciting since it pertains directly to my major of communication. Our group had several tasks such as organizing photography and sound to cover the event, writing a press release, organizing the food, and choosing promotional materials such as posters and post cards to get out to spread the word about the event. 

My task was to contact marketing and communication and get photography and audio for the event. I first submitted a form online and then followed up with an email to make sure we could get it done. Then we had some dates and times changed, I followed up again to make sure this task was completed properly. Through this process as well as being a communication major, I have found it’s best to always follow up no matter what, this shows you are responsible, and you and your party are on the same page about the expectations and deadlines for your event or project. 

That was the first part of my task, then as a group we came together to choose what posters and post cards we wanted printed and displayed to get people to come to our event. There were many to choose from due to the fact a whole Layout and Design class designed many for us to choose from. Danny, our team leader, chose his top favorites and he wanted our input as well. I carefully looked at all the designs and chose my favorite. I first chose a poster because it has all the information, we are looking for to display to our audience (who, what, where when, why) and it was done in a tasteful manner. I found the lettering and design to be clear and easy to understand and it will get people’s attention. I thought the color scheme went with our theme for the event (the brown and blue remind me of the Leaves of Grass analogy that we have spoken of in this class. I thought the photo of our author is in a good position and it compliments the book cover. I think the biography about him and about Eulalia Books in appropriate and provides a clear message for what we are going for. 

Then after studying all the post cards, I chose one that matches the poster nicely with the color scheme of the light brown, black text and blue cover. I think the fact the poster and post card complement each other shows the continuity within them. I think the post card has all the information in a neat and detailed format. The simplicity makes it easier to read and understand. I think many people will hold on to it for future information about Eulalia Books. After the poster and post card is chosen then we will spread the word all about the book launch around campus, on social media, and through word of mouth. 

I enjoyed this part of the process as well as help iron out all the details of the event. It was great to work together as a team as well as see all the different parts that go into pulling a book launch together. I can’t wait for December 4 to see all our hard work pay off as “Why Poetry?” is released!

Interior Design

I will admit that I was a little taken aback when I found out that Ms. Gil-Montero assigned me to lead the team for the interior design of Why Poetry? by Joe O’Connor. This was not my first foray into the realm of interior design for books, but my only previous experience was a little chapbook I made out of my own work, which had no consequences for quality or lack thereof.

So I knew about a lot of the details we would need to take into account, including fonts, page numbers, sizing, and spacing. Some things that were new included the copyright page, the table of contents, the acknowledgments, and the author biography—all supplemental material that made the book more “official.” In addition to creating the design for these elements, my team was in charge of writing the copy for most of them.

Luckily for me, I had three awesome team members who were prepared to fearlessly jump into the design process. Clair, Haleigh, and Jake all made essential contributions every step of the way. Before we even opened InDesign, the software we used to design the book, we had to choose fonts, proofread the manuscript, and write the acknowledgements, the copyright page, and the table of contents.

Using the website dafont.com, each of us found five fonts that we thought we could use for either titles or body text. We could not use just any font, though. The fonts we chose needed to be free for commercial use, since we are selling the book, and they needed to be TrueType fonts, meaning that the font files ended in .ttf, so that the text would look the same after we sent it to the printer.

Meanwhile, Haleigh meticulously proofread the manuscript, Clair drafted the acknowledgements, which we later sent to Ms. Gil-Montero and Joe for approval, and I typed up the copyright page, copying most of it from Eulalia’s previous chapbook, Prepoems in PostSpanish by Jorgenrique Adoum.

Finally, we met to start the actual design. Out of all the font options we came up with, we chose one serif font for titles (Angleterre Book) and one sans serif font for the body text (Roboto Light). This arrangement mirrors the cover design by Micaela’s team, which featured a heavier font for the title of the chapbook and a sans serif font for Joe’s name. I also liked the sans serif font for the body because Joe’s poetry is very open and honest, and the unadorned sans serif font reflects that character.

After all this preparation, the actual designing part felt somewhat anticlimactic. We established the guidelines that made boxes for titles and body text; we decided what size to make all the text. The rest was mostly copying and pasting text boxes and the text from the manuscript. (We took turns, so no one got carpal tunnel.) Then the very last step was to make changes after Ms. Gil-Montero proofread the designed copy. And I’m really happy with the way it turned out!

A Peek Inside: Designing a Chapbook’s Interior Layout

“Blurred Book Pages”. Photo by Caio (Creative Commons CC0 1.0) – public domain image. https://thoughtsonfantasy.com/openfannedbook/

Last week, my team met to work on the interior layout for new author Joe O’Connor’s chapbook, Why Poetry. When asked to volunteer for our desired team during our last class period, I chose this one because I thought it would be interesting to open my eyes to some of the challenges of a book’s physical production. I had no idea how many other windows would be unveiled to me as well in the short time we worked together! 

The most revolutionizing discovery proved to be my newfound ability to find and download other fonts to my computer. As a Mac user, I’m bound to their version of Microsoft Word, a program called Pages. While I like the program itself, I was always wanting for new fonts, but never knew there was a way to obtain them…for free! When our wonderful and diligent group leader, Julia Snyder, instructed us to search on dafont.com, for possible fonts in which to set O’Connor’s body text, I found hundreds of new letter styles at my fingertips. I cannot contain my excitement (and my shock that I’d never heard of this miracle before)!

I selected several serif fonts, some of which were plain enough for body text but still had a little more style than the monotonous Times New Roman every student has memorized. I also found a few that could potentially work for titles. While we opted with Robot Thin, a sans-serif font, for the main text, selected for its “open” appearance, our group did choose Angleterre Book, I font I picked, for use in the numerous titles throughout the work!

Julia then introduced us to Adobe InDesign, similar in layout to Adobe Photoshop, which I currently use in AR-330: Digital Photography and Post-Production. I liked how, by creating a Master Page, we could keep the same placement of body texts versus titles or page numbers, and the same margins on each page-in-progress, which gave the chapbook a uniform, fluid feel despite its gorgeous poems and unique covers. Laying out each page was a laborious process, but together we wrestled with the font size and copied and pasted each title and each poem to its appropriate text box. 

The most exasperating aspect hit us, coffee-less, at 8 am when we met again to finish the project. Nearly finished, we simply couldn’t adjust the print settings to allow us to print the layout we required for our mockup of the book interior. At last, we surrendered to Google, and found others had experienced the same problem; the computer program had added extra pages, and we had already designed it with a sufficient addition of blank ones. Any more, and the poems would not be printed in the proper order.  We followed online advice and were ecstatic when it printed correctly! Then we tried to find a stapler to finalize the tangible copy of our hard work…

All in all, I truly enjoyed working with the interior layout team, whose members were pleasant and hard-working. My mind has expanded in its understanding of books. I had no idea how much effort was entertained in the making of a single page!

Putting a Front and Back on an Art Piece

by Jacob L Snizik

This past Wednesday, my group and I were given the honor of returning to the wonderful Mess Work Press in Wilkinsburg to fulfill part of our obligation as not only publishers, but printers of our collaboration work with poet Joe O’Connor, turning his piece “Why Poetry” into a physical booklet.

For close to three hours, my group and I churned out 300 or more book covers that will eventually envelope Joe O’Connor final printed work, we literally had to book end someone’s hope and dreams, and as a fellow writer, I found great pride in that. We printed the covers by hand, with ink that the print shop would normally use for their own hand made publications. The ink needed to be pressed by hand onto and through a premade film that held on it, the cover image, leaving only the cover paper with the image, freshly inked, on it.

It was labor, and by the end of the whole process everyone had tired hands and arms, I know I did, but it was a labor done with care and respect. Ever since the author came to us with this proposition, I’ve been truly honored to be part of team of college students that an adult poet has enough trust and faith in to help bring his creation into the world. It’s been a journey and a very unique experience, I’ve had to do things I never thought I’d have to do, and there’s so much more work to be done.

The greatest take away I’ve taken from this printing experience as a whole is that I’ve been given the chance to see all the work it takes to bring a book into print. As a writer, I always thought, a tad selfishly but while also being real, that the publishing process is someone else’s work, and that somehow the book as you’d see it at the book store you just appear. I’ve learned that that is far from the truth, and now that I know that, I love being immersed in the experience.

I can’t wait to finally hold the booklets in my hand and to read the fresh poetry.

An Adventure Judged by Its Cover

I was that person who was only aware of screen printing as “that thing you do when you want to put an image on a t-shirt” before November 6th. I knew some of my favorite heavy metal t-shirts had been screen printed into existence, but back then I was unaware of its greater depth as an art form, and of its future significant in my junior year of college.

While the fall semester of 2019 enters the home stretch, the notion that we’re making a real bool, a chapbook to be more precise, still feels incredibly surreal. However, our final class trip down to Meshwork Press in Wilkinsburg to screen print the covers of Joe O’Connor’s Why Poetry? brought the swirling fantasy one step closer to a concrete reality. The ever-brilliant and hard-working Haylee Ebersole had four workstations primed and ready to print, but first, took a moment to explain the nuances of the screen printing. She demonstrated techniques like flooding the screen (coating the print area with ink before pressure is applied for the final print), as well as the best way to spread the colorful inks to get a fading effect on the cover.

The completed covers. © Elspeth Mizner

The cover in question was designed by Micaela Kreuzwieser and her team, featuring a photo by Joe’s Saint Vincent roommate, Jim Kozak. A simplistic shot of trees and the moon (or the sun?), we were directed by MGM to use color in way that riffed off of a comment Joe made regarding Walt Whitman’s poetry collection, Leaves of Grass. My station-team, which consisted of myself, Elspeth Mizner, and Micaela, mixed sea-foam green and a light blue, and while our covers may not win the prize for best fade, I’m quite fond of the icy teal that anoint our covers. I immediately claimed the most physical task, manning (perhaps “hogging” would be more apt) the squeegee, firmly pressing the ink into the blank templates that would become our covers. Once my team and I found our rhythm, we churned out cover after cover.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it feels appropriate to acknowledge the important people in this journey. So, thank you, Haylee, for your skill as an artist and as a teacher. Thank you, MGM, for willing this course into existence, and for providing exuberant mentorship. Thank you, my classmates, for your curiosity and nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic. And finally, thank you, Joe, for your lifelong commitment to poetry.

Flooding the screen before the next print. © Elspeth Mizner

Second Time at Meshwork

It was cathartic, in a way, seeing the hard work our group did on the front cover of Joe O’Connor’s chapbook “Why Poetry?” translate into physical printing upon our return to Meshwork. The processes took a while to “make sense”, in terms of that one was an entirely digital work, and the other, entirely physical, but a similar mindset could be applied, as it puts objects of a process into motion, towards the completed project.

Given the mock-ups of the finished cover that our group had worked on prior to the visit, I had wondered how we would fit the cover into a physical form, as the digital mock-up was just that; digital. There are things that are difficult to account for when translating digital images to physical print, like pixels making the image come out blockier than it would if it were hand drawn. However, after seeing Haylee’s process in action, I didn’t really doubt anything after that. Haylee had us roll paint onto a canvas, which had the cover illustration of “Why Poetry?” as a stencil. The paint flooded the stencil and, with a squeegee tool, we pressed blue-green paint blends onto card-paper. The end result looked really great, and I felt a lot of pride leaving the covers out to dry after printing.

Example of Meshwork Press’ work, taken from https://www.meshworkpress.com/ourwork

Actually working with silk screening was possibly the most engaging thing we worked on this semester, as, until this class, the actual physical formatting of the text I work with and on is something I don’t really think about, and this was possibly the most hands-on example of that. The second excursion to Meshwork was possibly the most prominent example of “hey, I can do that too!” that I find so interesting about that class, and I’ll admit, I want to do it to.

Silk Screening at Meshwork

            Last week our class had the pleasure of working with Haylee Ebersole, founder of Meshwork Press, once again in her studio located in Wilkinsburg, PA. This time around, instead of working in letterpress, Haylee taught us how to screen print using silkscreening. Screen printing is a hands-on alternative to digital printing, where “One screen (mesh stencil) is used for each color to be printed – screens must be lined up (or registered) and printed on test sheets to ensure that all of the colors line up correctly. Inks are then pushed through the screens one color at a time onto the apparel. Finally, each piece is run through a large dryer to cure the inks” (“The Screen Printing Process”). But, this wasn’t just an exercise in creativity, these screen prints were made with a purpose.

            Eulalia books, “publishes one book per year in its Joe O’Connor Poetry Series, which is dedicated to cultivating the poets who live in the Laurel Highlands or who are Saint Vincent alums, who have never published a book before” (Eulalia Books). This series is beginning with O’Connor’s poetry chapbook entitled, Why poetry? and our class is responsible for producing it. After meeting with Joe and discussing the contents of the chapbook, students got to work on designing the cover, which was created by a fellow Saint Vincent College alumnus. Our excursion last Wednesday was dedicated to bringing the covers into existence.

            Thanks to Haylee’s skill and guidance, our class quickly got to work, splitting up into teams of 3 or 4 people per screen printer. Because of the hands-on nature of screen printing, each cover is unique and delightfully imperfect. Each cover shows that a real human being put themselves into it. While the color scheme was consistently blues and greens the shades differed – a testament to the collective effort of the class and the individual work of the student. In all, the process of making the covers for Why Poetry? was just plain fun, in a lot of ways, childlike, and getting our hands dirty felt good.

Visit:

https://www.meshworkpress.com/

https://www.eulaliabooks.com/

“About.” Eulalia Books, https://www.eulaliabooks.com/about.

“The Screen Printing Process.” Screen Printing Process, How Screen Printing Works,             https://www.threadbird.com/the-screen-printing-process.